Fdd's overnight brief

March 1, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian civilians as a chaotic series of events unfolded involving a convoy of aid trucks in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military and Gaza health officials said, prompting Hamas to pause delicate cease-fire negotiations. – Wall Street Journal 

From above, northern Gaza might be the skeletal remains of a forgotten ancient city, the broken pieces of its bombed-out buildings scattered like handfuls of chipped teeth. – Washington Post

President Biden said on Thursday that while he was still learning details of the shooting that killed or wounded hundreds in northern Gaza, he thought the deaths could jeopardize efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. – New York Times 

The death toll in Gaza passed a somber milestone on Thursday as the local health ministry reported that more than 30,000 people had been killed in the war since Oct. 7. – New York Times

Austria’s foreign minister on Thursday urged Israel and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group against escalating the conflict along the volatile Israel-Lebanon border and expressed hope for a pause in the fighting in Gaza in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in March.  – Associated Press

A U.S. citizen who was dragged out of her home and detained by Israeli authorities for over three weeks was released on bail Thursday to wait out the remainder of her trial in the West Bank, the latest in a case attracting international attention for prosecuting an American in Israeli military court. – Associated Press

Three dozen leaders at news organizations around the world have signed a letter expressing solidarity with journalists in Gaza, calling for their safety and freedom to report in the war zone. – Associated Press

Humanitarian aid groups appealed on Thursday to the European Union to release tens of millions of euros in funding due to the main U.N. agency that delivers most aid to people in the Gaza Strip as the organization teeters on the brink of financial collapse. – Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress on Thursday that more than 25,000 women and children had been killed by Israel in Gaza since October 7, but the Pentagon later clarified that estimate, saying the figure came from the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, not U.S. intelligence. – Reuters

Israel appropriated several tracts of land abutting a major Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, but a source briefed on the decision told Reuters there was currently no plan for construction there. – Reuters

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Thursday said the deaths of dozens of people waiting for an aid convoy in Gaza was “a nightmare” and called for an end to fighting in the enclave. – Reuters

Finance leaders from the world’s largest economies failed to agree on a joint statement as they wrapped up talks on Thursday, with divisions over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine overshadowing efforts to forge a consensus on global economic development. – Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said the killing of over 100 people seeking humanitarian aid in Gaza was a situation that would require an effective independent investigation. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the “tragic and alarming incident” in northern Gaza on Thursday with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, as well as ways to secure the release of Hamas hostages and a six-week ceasefire, the White House said. – Reuters

U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said on Thursday war crimes had been committed by all parties in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, calling for them to be investigated and for those responsible to be held accountable. – Reuters

The Palestinian Authority has received 407 million shekels ($114 million) from Israel with more funds on the way soon following a deal to release frozen tax funds, the Norwegian government said on Thursday. – Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday urged Palestinian groups holding talks in Moscow about the formation of a unified government to set aside their differences and unite for the sake of the Palestinian people. – Reuters

The deaths of dozens in a Gaza stampede during humanitarian assistance deliveries is complicating Israel’s war plans, as well as President Biden’s attempts at forcing a cease-fire. As Ramadan approaches, it is also raising passions across the Muslim world. – New York Sun

US President Joe Biden said he remains hopeful about the prospects for a temporary pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas but that it is unlikely to begin by Monday as he originally sought. – Bloomberg

A Saudi-led group of Arab states is urging the US and allies to persuade Israel to consider a renewed plan for Palestinian statehood that they say will de-escalate tensions in the Middle East, according to several Arab officials involved in drafting the proposal. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden walked back his assessment that a hostage deal to pause fighting in the Gaza Strip could be reached by Monday. – Politico

Two Israelis were murdered during a terror shooting attack near the settlement of Eli on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Amid American opposition, Arab nations failed Thursday overnight to get immediate support for a UN Security Council statement that would have blamed Israeli forces for the more than 100 reported deaths as Palestinians in northern Gaza swarmed an aid convoy. – Times of Israel

The White House said on Thursday that the incident in Gaza City in which dozens of Palestinians were killed as they swarmed a convoy of aid trucks was “tremendously alarming,” as Israel shared drone footage of troops’ attempts to disperse the swelling mob, denying responsibility for the mass deaths amid international criticism of its Gaza offensive. – Times of Israel

The IDF and Shin Bet said Thursday night that some 40 Palestinian suspects held under administrative detention had been released, saying the move was aimed at freeing up space “for detainees of a higher threat level.” – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening expressed pessimism that Israel and Hamas could reach a deal to pause fighting in Gaza and release hostages, accusing the terror group of continuing to stonewall Israel rather than make a good faith effort at compromise. – Times of Israel

Dozens of far-right activists broke through an Israeli military checkpoint and crossed into Gazan territory on Thursday afternoon, with some making it hundreds of meters into the Strip before being corralled by troops, the army said. – Times of Israel

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that more than 25,000 women and children had been killed by Israel Defense Forces since October 7, adding that Israel should do more to protect civilians. – Times of Israel

Two Israelis were killed when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at a gas station in the West Bank on Thursday afternoon before being shot and killed by the proprietor of a nearby business on leave from fighting in Gaza, the military and medics said – Times of Israel

Masar Badil, an organization affiliated with the widely designated terror organization PFLP, hosted a webinar featuring Basem Naim, a prominent leader in Hamas, who left his constituents in the Gaza Strip before the October 7 massacre, heading to safety abroad. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: The latest on Thursday killed two Israelis at a gas station. Nonetheless, Israel can do more to combat violence by the settler fringe before it and the inflated media perception do further damage. The settlements issue deserves real consideration, not one-sided declarations to meet Mr. Biden’s political needs while Israel is at war. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Before Gaza turns into Somalia, it’s vital to bring the hostages home, allow the IDF a much-needed breather, start investigating the failures that led to October 7 and return the evacuees to both the south and the north. It’s time now to stop. – Haaretz

Beth Bailey writes: On Feb. 26, U.N. Watch hosted an international summit to argue for replacing the agency with trusted humanitarian actors. Because UNRWA “is in essence about dismantling Israel,” Neuer argues that funding the agency goes against donor states’ efforts to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. It also goes against the U.S.’s moral commitment to Israel’s survival. – Washington Examiner

Christopher Tremoglie writes: These are not normal, sane, or rational people. They are extremists of the most violent nature. It’s indicative of their dangerously radical beliefs. There is right and there is wrong, and lamenting on social media an inability to commit terrorist acts is wrong. This is true of anyone, regardless of his or her political ideals or beliefs. – Washington Examiner

Ron Ben Yishai writes: Then the forces overseeing the entry of aid trucks will be equipped with riot gear, and will be able to avoid live fire in case of rioting. Israel and the War Cabinet must provide the IDF with the political and legal framework to deal with the civilian population in Gaza as soon as possible, otherwise, it may not achieve its war goals. – Ynet

Lama Bakri writes: The only way to end the killing, prevent starvation and alleviate the psychological devastation experienced by Gaza’s children is an immediate cease-fire, the unrestricted entry of vital humanitarian aid, and the establishment of aid frameworks. – Haaretz

Ehud Barak writes: The time has come for the people of Israel to stand up and bring about a change of course. Eisenkot, Gantz, and Lapid should lead this effort and demand general elections so that the Israeli people can decide where we are heading and who will lead us there. This is a crucial moment. It calls for leadership and action, before it is too late. – Foreign Affairs

Hardin Lang and Jeremy Konyndyk write: This means there is a window to reverse the descent toward famine—if there is the political will to do so. But time is of the essence. Once famine-related mortality gains momentum, it is even harder to slow down. The first step will be for the U.S. government to give this challenge the priority it deserves. – Foreign Affairs


Iranians have few ways to express themselves when elections come around. This year’s parliamentary ballot has seen a mass disqualification of candidates, narrowing the political field more than ever after authorities crushed nationwide protests in late 2022. – Wall Street Journal

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to elect members of the national parliament and the body that will choose Iran’s next supreme leader as the country grapples with crises across multiple fronts: A spiraling economic downturn, regional tensions testing the country’s foreign policy and the fallout from mass protests sparked by the 2022 death of a young woman in the custody of the country’s morality police. – Washington Post

Iran began voting Friday in its first parliamentary elections since the mass 2022 protests over its mandatory hijab laws after the death of Mahsa Amini, with questions looming over just how many people will turn out for the poll. – Associated Press

Iran began voting for a new parliament on Friday, seen as a test of the clerical establishment’s popularity at a time of growing frustration over economic woes and restrictions on political and social freedoms. – Reuters

Iran will hold two elections on Friday, one for its parliament and one for a key group that will likely select the country’s next Supreme Leader – Jerusalem Post

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei weighed in with his opinion on the recent self-immolation of US Serviceman Aaaron Bushnell, who set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Laurence writes: Tehran and its proxies would still wish to protest—but with broad Islamic involvement, including outreach to Shiite communities, the protection of international law, and Israeli consultation, the project can defang their threats and assert a unified profile where disunity has prevailed. – Wall Street Journal

Omer Carmi writes: Indeed, many Iranians expect the West to take this perspective, with Ayatollah Araki and other prominent figures arguing that the “enemy’s sensitivity” about this year’s assembly election is directly tied to Western predictions of an approaching succession. – Washington Institute

Marie Abdi writes: At the same time, it is conceivable that, during this period, groups interested in influencing the selection of the next supreme leader will seek to gain the support of influential figures within the office to achieve their goals. All of this implies that if the Islamic Republic continues to govern Iran, in the last years of Khamenei’s rule the Office of the Supreme Leader will likely evolve into a significant behind-the-scenes actor wielding substantial influence over the contours of the post-Khamenei era. – Middle East Institute 

Saqi Nassiri and Tooba Moshiri write: Akbari said she did not know if hijab regulations played a part in her dismissal, but that her boss had explained that her male colleagues were uncomfortable with her presence. “I would’ve understood if I was performing poorly, but instead, it’s my teammates not being comfortable around women that got me sacked,” said Akbari, who has since been unemployed. – Foreign Policy

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has in recent weeks publicly hinted that he would be open to discussions to end the war in Ukraine on Moscow’s terms, as Kyiv’s military momentum stalls. – Wall Street Journal 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised the specter of a nuclear conflict if Ukraine’s allies step further into the war, a refrain the West had begun to tune out but that has gained resonance as collective security guarantees under NATO come under scrutiny. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is considering whether to provide Ukraine with badly needed arms and ammunition from Pentagon stockpiles even though the government has run out of money to replace those munitions, according to two U.S. officials and a senior lawmaker. – New York Times

Villagers living near the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka listened with dread in recent weeks to the sound of the bombs falling there, knowing their troops were taking a pounding and their villages were next in line. – New York Times

President Vladimir V. Putin has threatened to reach into Russia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons at three points in time in the past two years: once at the outset of the war against Ukraine two years ago, once when he was losing ground and again on Thursday, as he senses that he is grinding down Ukrainian defenses and American resolve. – New York Times 

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared isolated on the European stage this week after saying the possibility of Western troops being sent to Ukraine could not be ruled out, a comment that prompted an outcry from other leaders. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden is set to host Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni on Friday for talks at the White House as the Democratic administration struggles to persuade House Republicans to pass legislation that would replenish aid to Ukraine and as both leaders face political headwinds at home. – Associated Press

The editor-in-chief of the renowned Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta was detained in Moscow on Thursday and later fined after being accused of discrediting Russia’s armed forces, the newspaper said. – Associated Press

As Russia makes battlefield advances and Ukrainian soldiers run short on ammunition, U.S. adults have become fractured along party lines in their support for sending military aid to Kyiv, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. – Associated Press

Russian forces are pushing hard against more Ukrainian towns and villages in eastern and southeastern Ukraine as Moscow tries to press its current advantage in weapons and troops, Kyiv officials said Thursday. – Associated Press 

Russian space officials on Wednesday acknowledged a continuing air leak from the Russian segment of the International Space Station, but said it poses no danger to its crew. – Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin told Western countries on Thursday they risked provoking a nuclear war if they sent troops to fight in Ukraine, warning that Moscow had the weapons to strike targets in the West. – Reuters

Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops from the village of Orlivka, west of Avdiivka, but the situation on the eastern front remains difficult, Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukraine has significantly increased its use of domestic-made weapons and military equipment, a senior defence official said on Thursday, as Kyiv aims to become more self-sufficient amid faltering Western military aid. – Reuters

The UK government has privately urged Germany to provide long-range Taurus missiles to the government in Kyiv as London expressed irritation over comments made by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about British activity in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

French President Emmanuel Macron had a clear message at his Paris summit of European leaders: help Ukraine win the war and keep Russia’s Vladimir Putin guessing. – Bloomberg

Japan approved fresh sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in a bid to show a united front with other Group of Seven nations. – Bloomberg

US President Joe Biden wants the Group of Seven nations to make progress on plans to tap frozen Russian sovereign assets to help support Ukraine by the time the leaders meet in June, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Ukrainian officials are concerned that Russian advances could gain significant momentum by the summer unless their allies can increase the supply of ammunition, according to a person familiar with their analysis. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Yes, it’s a relief that a shutdown has been avoided — for now. But Congress’s work is not done. Mr. Johnson should listen to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and the many other Republicans who agree with him that the United States cannot abdicate its international responsibilities and that it’s time for the House to vote on aid to Ukraine. – Washington Post

Editorial: While its long-term trajectory is decidedly negative, Russia’s economy has thus far withstood the worst of Western sanctions. This has been a point of public pride for Putin and his inner circle. In turn, even those more timid elements in the West should find the confidence to support asset transfers to Ukraine. Putin, after all, has assured us that such trifling sanctions do not concern him. – Washington Examiner

Dora Chomiak writes: Our hearts break for Ms. Karelina and the many innocent people held in Russian prisons, including Americans such as Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva. All governments must join the Biden administration in calling for their release. So long as Mr. Putin believes countries can adjudicate political disputes through invasions, war crimes and arbitrary arrests, no one is safe. – Wall Street Journal

Konstantin Eggert writes: However, threats from Putin’s henchmen insisting Navalny’s mother and wife have a secret burial — a demand they staunchly refused — betray the Kremlin’s inner fear that things may suddenly go haywire as they frequently do in such regimes. The U.S. and its allies should make note of it. Will they blink or rise to Putin’s challenge? There is little time left to decide. – The Hill

Walter Clemens, Jr. writes: If these sentiments are revered in Europe, how do they compare with Putin’s attacks on everything held dear in a Ukraine seeking to be part of the West? Putin is like those described by Schiller as having: not one soul to call their own on the face of the earth. and must creep away weeping away from this union. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Julia Davis writes: Solovyov argued that the opposition leader likely did not die of natural causes. He accused the CIA and Ukrainians of being instrumental in “the perfect timing” of Navalny’s death, which he alleged was designed to undermine the PR effect from Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin and the capture of Avdiivka in Eastern Ukraine, while also designed to coincide with the opening of the Munich Security Conference. It’s extremely doubtful that Solovyov believes what he says, and certain that he really does loathe the late Alexey Navalny. Whether the rest of Russia swallows the first and shares the second is open to doubt. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Caitlin Welsh and Joseph Glauber write: Time and innovations in trade data will further clarify the patterns explained here. Without a significant change in the course of the war, however, one can expect Russia to continue to use food and fertilizer as potent soft power tools, and to continue to capitalize on the destruction of Ukraine’s agriculture sector and the damage done to global food security as a result. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The Iran-backed Hezbollah signalled on Thursday that it would halt its attacks on Israel from Lebanon when the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip stops, but that it was also ready to keep on fighting if Israel continued hostilities. – Reuters

A halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip as early as next week would trigger indirect talks to end hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said on Thursday. – Reuters 

With fighting in the Gaza Strip winding down in intensity, the focus of Israel’s senior government and military officials has shifted northward. Following the elimination of five senior Hezbollah commanders last week and the terror organization’s response of launching widespread rocket barrages into the Galilee region, it is evident that the military confrontation at the Lebanon border is reaching a boiling point. – Ynet 

Steven A. Cook writes: So, either Nasrallah will order his forces north to the Litani River, or the IDF will force them back. Hezbollah will resist because that is what it purports to do—and what better way to burnish its tattered domestic credentials? It is unlikely there is any way to hold off war now. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. senators declined on Thursday to block the sale of F-16s to Turkey, despite voicing deep disdain for Turkey’s conduct as an ally. They were upholding an unofficial bargain that Turks would get the fighter jets if they stopped blocking Sweden’s accession to NATO. – Associated Press

Yemen’s Houthis will introduce military “surprises” in their Red Sea operations, the Iran-aligned group’s leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Thursday. – Reuters

Earlier, Syrian air defenses were activated against an Israeli strike in the area of Damascus on Thursday, according to two opposition groups. – Ynet

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: Qatar is a hard country to figure out, but it’s clear it will be critical in the days ahead. Hostage families are counting on them, with over 100 still being held in Gaza. As Winston Churchill famously said in 1939 about the Soviet Union: “It is a riddle wrapped in an enigma.” – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Friday improved ties with Japan were helping to combat threats from Pyongyang’s weapons developments and called for help from the international community to bring about unification with North Korea. – Reuters

Thousands of South Korean trainee doctors defied a government deadline to end their walkout in protest of a plan to increase medical school seats, risking punishment that includes arrest and a suspension of their licenses. – Bloomberg 

Sungmin Cho writes: As Shelling argues, “military strategy is an art of coercion, of intimidation and deterrence, and it is diplomacy of violence.” South Korea’s offensive military strategy would be most effective when combined with diplomatic efforts to shape Pyongyang’s (and Beijing’s) perspectives to recognize the costs of military confrontation and the benefits of diplomacy. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


China’s vast manufacturing sector remained in contraction for a fifth consecutive month in February, underscoring the difficulties facing the country’s leadership as it seeks to support a faltering economy, and raising hopes for bolder policy moves when top officials gather for annual legislative meetings next week. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s parliament is expected to unveil moderate stimulus plans to stabilise growth at an annual meeting beginning on Tuesday, but may disappoint those calling for a detailed roadmap of bold policies to fix the country’s deep structural imbalances. – Reuters

Taiwan is facing a steady “drip, drip” of Chinese pressure ahead of the inauguration of its next president in May, with officials in Taipei fearing Beijing could further squeeze the island’s room to manoeuvre without resorting to direct conflict. – Reuters

China on Thursday criticised British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and other foreign politicians for “smearing” an upcoming Hong Kong security law, as local authorities said feedback on the law had been largely positive. – Reuters

Australia has invited Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to visit in the later part of March for discussions spanning trade, security and more, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday citing sources. – Reuters

China is growing its military capabilities in space at a “breathtaking pace” to counter the American satellites in orbit and improve its ability to monitor and target forces on Earth, according to the head of the US Space Command. – Bloomberg

A senior Chinese official criticized Taiwan’s ruling party for what he said was “atrocious behavior” in the island’s fatal expulsion of a Chinese fishing boat last month, as the two governments continue to trade accusations over the incident. – Bloomberg

China’s advancements in space technology—and its nuclear triad—are proceeding with incredible speed, while Russia remains an unpredictable and dangerous threat, top officials from U.S. Strategic Command and Space Command told lawmakers Thursday. – Defense One

John S. Van Oudenaren writes: Such a move, however, would play into Beijing’s depiction of a capricious but fading hegemon guided by an anachronistic “Cold War mentality.” But Washington can still strike a balance to engage effectively. This means recognizing that even though the currency of its value-based diplomacy in the Global South is significantly degraded, many countries remain interested in practical cooperation with the United States to address specific challenges. – War on the Rocks

Yun Sun writes: While there is appetite for China’s engagement, especially among like-minded countries that share China’s authoritarian conviction, the confidence and interest in China as a key security player is much less evident. As such, they might as well show interest in China’s proposals—while ending up disillusioned by the reality. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

India on Thursday said it has begun replacing dozens of its military personnel in Maldives with civilian technical staff who will operate three aircraft given by India to provide humanitarian services. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s National Assembly swore in newly elected members of parliament on Thursday in a chaotic scene as allies of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan shouted and protested what they claim was a rigged election. – Associated Press

Sri Lanka has decided to stop issuing free long-term visas to Russian and Ukrainian nationals who have lived in the Indian Ocean island nation for the past two years, a government official said on Thursday. – Reuters

Pakistan’s newly elected lower house of parliament met for the first time on Thursday with lawmakers taking oaths amid protests on the floor of the house by supporters of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan. – Reuters

Attacks on commercial shipping in the Arabian and Red Sea by pirates and Iran-backed Houthi rebels are likely to continue, according to senior Indian officials. – Bloomberg

The chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee moved ahead on Thursday with a bid to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the withdrawal from Afghanistan. – Reuters

The Indian government is closer to buying a multibillion-dollar package of cruise missiles, air defense weapons, surveillance radars and fighter jet engines following approval from the country’s highest decision-making body on security affairs. – Defense News

Thirty-one US congresspeople have signed a letter calling on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to delay recognition of the newly elected Pakistani government until allegations of election fraud are investigated.  – Jerusalem Post


The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin and Chad have formally notified the United Nations of their intent to contribute personnel to an international force to help Haitian national police fight armed gangs, a U.N. spokesman said on Thursday. – Reuters

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr told the Australian parliament on Thursday he would not allow any foreign power to take “one square inch” of the country’s territory, and that Manila was firm in defending its sovereignty. – Reuters

Japan’s ruling parties have failed to agree to allow exports of a next-generation fighter jet before a deadline set by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in a fresh blow for the premier as he seeks to build up the country’s defenses. – Bloomberg

Singapore’s Defence Ministry plans to order eight F-35A jets, which would bring the country’s Joint Strike Fighter fleet to 20.The F-35A purchase would be on top of earlier orders for 12 F-35Bs from the American defense company Lockheed Martin. – Defense News


Inside Britain’s Parliament, lawmakers jeered, booed, and stormed out of the House of Commons to protest the speaker’s handling of a vote calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. Outside, a crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators projected the slogan, “From the river to the sea,” on to the facade of Big Ben, drawing denunciations from those who view it as a rallying cry for the eradication of Israel. – New York Times

The European Union took a major step Thursday in ending its standoff with member state Poland, saying it would start releasing billions of euros that were frozen over what the bloc said were the previous Polish government’s backsliding on democratic principles. – Associated Press

The leaders of Western Balkan countries agreed Thursday to speed up regional cooperation to benefit more from a new European Union plan of financial aid that will help provide a faster road to membership. – Associated Press

Poland doesn’t rule out introducing a ban on agricultural products from Russia, the prime minister said on Thursday during a visit to Warsaw by his counterpart from Latvia, which has already implemented such a ban. – Reuters

Left-wing disrupter George Galloway won a seat in the UK Parliament in a special election that underscored how the Israel-Hamas war has exacerbated community tensions and sowed division across British politics. – Bloomberg

Finland will complete a shift in power on Friday as Alexander Stubb is sworn in as the 13th president of the Nordic country, giving him oversight of foreign policy and national security. – Bloomberg

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated the seriousness of his Monday remarks when he said he would not rule out sending Western troops into Ukraine. – The Hill

Former President Trump is expected to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán next week at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, a source familiar with the plans confirmed to The Hill. – The Hill

The Polish Ministry of National Defence has signed a $2.5 billion deal with the U.S. government to acquire the Integrated Battle Command System, or IBCS, to synchronize the nation’s air- and missile-defense weapons under development. – C4ISRNET

U.S. military officials are working with the European Union to review an incident in which German frigate Hessen fired twice at an MQ-9 drone earlier this week during a multinational naval protection mission in the Red Sea. – C4ISRNET

Wayne Merry writes: There is no question that many European countries badly — very badly — need to restore their force structures and defense industries. However, they now need to do so within a time frame shorter than it would take to establish an EU-wide procurement system and czar, let alone to alter the bloc’s funding priorities. That makes von der Leyen’s grand plan more aspirational than achievable. – American Foreign Policy Council

Victor Liakh and Ilona Khmeleva write: The world must finally confront the harsh reality of Europe’s largest land war since World War Two. We must shake off our complacency, embrace sober judgment, and stand firmly with Ukraine. Only then can we hope to navigate the turbulent waters ahead. – The National Interest


The main opposition leader in the central African nation of Chad was killed on Wednesday in a shootout at his party headquarters in the capital, the country’s prosecutor has announced. – New York Times

United Nations troops began their gradual withdrawal from restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, handing over a base to Congolese authorities, the peacekeeping mission said in a statement. – Reuters

The British government’s controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda might end up costing more than 600 million pounds to deport 300 refugees, parliament’s spending watchdog said on Friday. – Reuters

Paramilitary forces and their allied militias fighting to take power in Sudan carried out widespread ethnic killings and rapes while taking control of much of western Darfur that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, United Nations experts said in a new report. – Associated Press

The Americas

Canada will reimpose visa requirements on Mexican visitors, hoping to curb an influx of asylum seekers, according to a senior official. The new requirement will be announced Thursday and take effect at midnight. – Wall Street Journal

Two scientists who worked at Canada’s top microbiology lab passed on secret scientific information to China, and one of them was a “realistic and credible threat to Canada’s economic security,” documents from the national intelligence agency and a security investigation show. – New York Times

On Oct. 7, when Hamas militants attacked numerous targets in Israel, killing hundreds and abducting others, Marina Degtiar felt she had traveled back in time, to July 18, 1994. What happened in Buenos Aires 30 years ago broke her apart. A bomb-laden van exploded inside a Jewish community center where her 21-year-old brother Cristian worked. It was the worst such attack in Argentina’s history, killing 85 — Degtiar´s brother among them — and injuring 300. – Associated Press

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro announced Thursday his government is suspending purchases of weapons from Israel after Palestinians say Israeli troops fired at people seeking food in Gaza, marking an escalation of tensions between both countries over the Israel-Hamas war. – Associated Press 

Campaigning formally starts Friday for Mexico’s biggest election in history. Voters will choose the president, along with the winners of 628 seats in Congress and tens of thousands of local positions. The country of 130 million people has often been marked by its “macho” culture. Now it is almost certain to elect its first woman president. – Associated Press

Heavy gunfire paralyzed Haiti’s capital Thursday, and at least four police officers were slain, as a powerful gang leader announced that he would try to capture the country’s police chief and government ministers. – Associated Press

A panel of U.N.-backed human rights experts on Thursday accused Nicaragua ’s government of systematic human rights abuses “tantamount to crimes against humanity,” implicating a range of high-ranking officials in the government of President Daniel Ortega. – Associated Press

A wave of panic swept through downtown Port-au-Prince on Thursday as violence and heavy gunfire broke out, in what a gang leader said was a demonstration against authorities. – Reuters

A former U.S. ambassador will plead guilty to charges of spying for Cuba for decades, court records showed on Thursday, in what the Justice Department described, opens new tab as one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent. – Reuters

A bipartisan group of senators is lauding Guatemala’s newly inaugurated President Bernardo Arévalo for maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan, as the island nation’s diplomatic allies increasingly opt instead to maintain relations with China. – The Hill

Splits over the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine prevented Group of 20 finance chiefs from issuing a closing communique after their meetings in Sao Paulo. – Bloomberg

United States

President Biden took steps on Thursday toward blocking internet-connected Chinese cars and trucks from entry to the American auto market, including electric vehicles, saying they posed risks to national security because their operating systems could send sensitive information to Beijing. – New York Times

On the banks of the same Rio Grande but 300 miles apart, President Joe Biden and GOP challenger Donald Trump on Thursday surveyed the U.S.-Mexico border and tussled from a distance over who is to blame for the nation’s broken immigration system and how to fix it. – Associated Press

The head of the House Democratic Caucus wasted no time Thursday shooting down a bipartisan proposal linking Ukraine aid to border security. – The Hill

Calls in Congress for increased humanitarian aid and a cease-fire in Gaza grew on Thursday after more than 100 people were killed near a convoy of trucks bringing in aid to civilians in Gaza City. – The Hill

Americans’ support for NATO has remained steady over the past two years, with a majority of respondents still saying they want to see the U.S. either increase or maintain its commitment to the defense alliance, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. – The Hill

President Joe Biden’s upcoming State of the Union address was already a high-stakes setting to discuss his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, with pressure mounting from fellow Democrats for a major change of course. – Politico

Zachary Faria writes: The problem is going to persist. It is going to persist because Biden does not care about the border, keeping it secure, or helping the towns, such as Eagle Pass, that are shouldering the burden. He also doesn’t care about the big Democratic cities that have been hoisted by their own sanctuary petards. All Biden cares about is clinging to power, just as he has for the over half his life he has spent in politics. He isn’t coming to the rescue for Denver or any other sanctuary city any time soon. – Washington Examiner


The US will investigate potential data and cybersecurity risks posed by Chinese electric vehicles and other internet-connected cars, the Commerce Department said Thursday, intending to act before their manufacturers expand into American markets. – Bloomberg

Over the past two months, U.S. cybersecurity officials have ordered federal agencies to either patch or disconnect two gateways made by the firm Ivanti amid reports that they have been targeted by Chinese hacking operations. Now, in a fresh advisory released Thursday, authorities say that hackers are able to bypass Ivanti’s integrity checker tool that should have been able to detect compromises. – CyberScoop

North Korean hackers exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in a Windows security feature, allowing them to gain the highest level of access to targeted systems. – The Record

Editorial: Google has dominated search for so long that complacency may have set in as OpenAI and other AI competitors rapidly advanced. Now Google is paying for its mistakes with users and investors. Who says market competition and discipline don’t work? – Wall Street Journal

Paul Scharre writes: Global cooperation is urgently needed to govern their improvement, limit their proliferation, and guard against their potential use. Reaching international agreement on autonomous weapons is critical for addressing their harms and laying the foundation for collaboration on future, even more consequential AI dangers. – Foreign Affairs


The U.S. military plans to preserve force readiness as a top priority, even if Congress fails to pass a defense spending bill next week. – Defense News

Senators on Wednesday confirmed Adm. Samuel Paparo as the next leader of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, putting the longtime naval officer in charge of American military strategy and operations for the West Pacific combatant command. – Defense News

Northrop Grumman is now adapting the next two RQ-4 Global Hawk drones into aircraft that can monitor hypersonic system tests and expects to start integration testing on the pair later this summer. – Defense News

Bell and Leonardo are to work together on tiltrotor helicopters, 13 years after they broke off a partnership on what was then nascent technology. – Defense News

Anduril Industries and Hanwha Defense USA said they are teaming up to submit a bid for the U.S. Army’s Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport robot competition. – Defense News

The Navy Expeditionary Combat Command enables the rest of the fleet, providing port security, naval construction, mine clearance, salvage diving and more.  – Defense News

Following numerous drone attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East, the Marine Corps is searching for a new system to defend its bases from small drones, according to a solicitation released last week. – Defense One

General Atomics’ new air combat drone has flown, another step toward what the Air Force is calling the “first of a second generation” of autonomous aircraft.  – Defense One

Admiral Andrew “Woody” Lewis, Krista Viksnins, and Ginger Matchett write: Most importantly, consistency with NATO’s new Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic (DDA) will ensure purpose-driven military deterrence in peacetime as well as robust, integrated force defense on an alliance-wide operational-strategic scale. This strategy would support adaptability to the demands of modern warfare, a changing security environment and enhance the US and NATO’s capability to prevent the emergence of a two-ocean war. – Center for European Policy Analysis